- Lowers the foe's Attack one stage. Decreases wild encounter rate.
- Boosts Attack by one stage if the wielder knocks out another Pokemon.
Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Gyarados is one of those badass Kanto Pokemon that captured the hearts and minds of a generation of kids in the mid-nineties. However, unlike Charizard, it's actually competitively useful. Gyarados is almost unique in the Doubles metagame for its ability to function equally well in the vastly differing roles of bulky supporter and setup sweeper. For each role it has a tailor-made ability: Intimidate allows it and its teammates to take physical hits so much better, and Moxie means that, if offensive Gyarados gets a kill, the opponent is often on the back foot. 95 / 79 / 100 bulk is decent, but with Intimidate it is very good, and it comes with sweet resistances that allow Gyarados to stop common physical attackers like Scizor and Hitmontop in their tracks. These resistances also include common spread moves like Surf, Muddy Water, Heat Wave, and Earthquake. However, Gyarados's Electric-type weakness is something of an Achilles' heel, as is a weakness to the ever-present Rock Slide. Nevertheless, these flaws do not stop it from being a top-tier threat that can rip gaping holes in a team or happily spread crippling Thunder Waves throughout the enemy ranks.
Although Gyarados's stat distribution might suggest otherwise, its most common and most effective role is as a supporter designed to cripple opponents in various ways. The most obvious way in which it does this is just by switching in and activating Intimidate, which is anathema to the vast majority of physical attackers. It can also slow opponents down with its choice of speed control. Thunder Wave has the advantages of being permanent, reducing Speed by a much larger factor, and additionally having a chance to stop opponents moving altogether, while Icy Wind hits both opponents, isn't prevented by Taunt, and can hit Ground-types. Thunder Wave is generally a little better as Waterfall hurts Ground-types anyway, and Icy Wind makes Gyarados even more of a liability against Defiant users. Waterfall does decent damage, Taunt prevents opposing speed control and other forms of support, and Protect is recommended for scouting and for blocking dangerous attacks.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With this set, Gyarados relies on its bulk, but uses it to take on a more offensive approach. Dragon Dance gives Gyarados frightening power and Speed in just one turn and is capable of cleaning up weakened teams or decimating them early on. Waterfall maims anything that doesn't resist it and additionally has a nice 20% flinch chance. The third moveslot depends on what you want to hit: Return has the best neutral coverage, Ice Fang hits Grass- and Dragon-types but leaves Gyarados walled by Water-types, and Earthquake is the best spread move available and can be used to pick up more Moxie boosts, potentially even when Gyarados KOes a partner. Protect is highly important on this set, as Gyarados doesn't have the luxury of switching out without consequences most of the time.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Gyarados is a Pokemon that has all the tools it needs, but little more. As for entirely different sets, a Choice Band set with Intimidate can combine the best of both worlds—big power and the freedom to switch in and out—but the loss of Protect hurts it, and support will have to be provided in the form of speed control. Bounce is Gyarados's only Flying STAB, but with almost everything running Protect in Doubles it is the easiest thing in the world to stop. A two attacks + Substitute, or even a Waterfall + Dragon Dance + Substitute set, is plausible, but these also require unreasonable levels of support. The support set could run Rain Dance to support a team heavily dependent on rain. Gyarados's extensive special movepool, including the likes of Thunderbolt, Dragon Pulse, and Fire Blast, is utterly wasted on a Pokemon with a base 60 Special Attack stat.
Checks and Counters
Although the support and Dragon Dance sets have somewhat different counters, a common theme is Electric-types. Rotom-W stands out as the best, able to take anything Gyarados can throw at it and hit back with Electric-type STAB. When carrying a Choice Scarf, it can also outrun Gyarados after a Dragon Dance. Thundurus, Thundurus-T, Zapdos, Manectric, Raikou, and Rotom-F do a good job too, all OHKOing if Gyarados lacks a Wacan Berry; Thundurus gets a special mention for Taunting partners with Follow Me or Rage Powder, which would otherwise enable Gyarados to set up. Most of these are also immune to Earthquake should Gyarados be running it. Rock Slide users such as Tyranitar, Terrakion, Excadrill, and Kabutops also deal heavy damage, but none of them appreciates a rain-boosted Waterfall to the face. Sableye checks both sets by Taunting the support set and burning the offensive one; Sableye can also Taunt Follow Me users like Thundurus can.
The support set is rendered ineffective by anything with Taunt, which will normally force Gyarados out. Particular mentions go to Prankster users and other faster users of the move, such as Mew and Hydreigon. Manaphy cannot be touched as long as it is raining, as Hydration heals paralysis, and it can get in a Tail Glow before it is Taunted. Gastrodon is likewise unhurt by both Waterfall and Thunder Wave. Defiant users such as Bisharp and Tornadus keep Gyarados off the field altogether, and Icy Wind only exacerbates this problem.
The Dragon Dance set is walled by something, regardless of what Gyarados runs. Jellicent and Ferrothorn are the most consistent bets as they resist Gyarados's Water- and Normal-type coverage—Jellicent is completely immune. Jellicent can burn Gyarados with Will-O-Wisp or Scald, and Ferrothorn can hit hard with Power Whip or paralyze it with Thunder Wave. However, Amoonguss will merrily spam Rage Powder against both as Gyarados continues to boost. This set also loathes Trick Room, which turns the Speed tiers upside down, so bulky setters such as Cresselia, which can run Sunny Day too, put in work. In general, the best way to beat the Dragon Dance set is to stop it setting up by clever use of disruptive moves like Fake Out and Taunt, which can come from a wide variety of sources.